Cooking for Picasso
By Camille Aubray
Review By Monica Drahonovsky
Did you ever wonder what Pablo Picasso was like on a personal level? Well, Camille Aubray has researched his life and presents to the reader a delightful, if not strange, mockup of his life and times during the spring of 1936 in a small seaside village in France.
Picasso has run away from his real life and is in hiding with all of his paintings alone. What a great read.
Picasso is always betwixt and between women, affairs and marriages as well as paintings. His love life is entwined with his paintings and his marriages are entwined with women that want to be next.
So, when he hides away from one wife with all of his paintings with him, the question becomes who will cook for him. The story unfolds brilliantly and quietly and with many different recipes that Ondine learns from her mother who is an excellent chef. As it is off-season and slow, Ondine’s mother jumps at the chance for the added money.
Ondine’s mother and father own the Café Paradis when “P” arrives. He enlists Ondine’s mother to have meals delivered anonymously to his house secretly. She sends the meals with Ondine, her 17-year old daughter, on her bike. Ondine delivers them, sets the table and waits for “P” to finish and then she cleans up and brings the empty dishes back home.
Of course, Ondine is young, beautiful and keeps a diary.
This is the delightful beginning to a story that takes some twists and turns that lead to wonderful descriptions of Picasso and his travails with women and paintings. It also is a “who dun it” that starts in 1936 and ends in 2016 with Ondine’s granddaughter Celine. Every chapter gives a new dimension to the reader to consider.
You really will love reading this book. The characters are realistic and bold and heartfelt. I read it once and laughed a little, cried and wondered. I had to read it again.
Picasso becomes almost as real as his paintings. What do they mean? Camille Aubray is a delicate wordsmith and she delivers a genuine person to the reader. The essence of Picasso and what he thinks about women and the times of his life are on display for discussion. Enjoy. You will be glad your library has this book on its shelf.
Monica Reads is InDepthNH.org’s latest column. It is written by Monica Drahonovsky who is known for her love of history and her lifelong love for reading. She has a bachelor’s degree in History, with a minor in English, along with teaching credentials. “My years of reading for leisure and pleasure have given me the insight to read a book and analyze the author’s baggage, cargo and ability to write the language of his/her mind and utilize the gift of prose to educate and entertain the reader. Go get a book, read it and enjoy the adventure.” Contact Monica at firstname.lastname@example.org.